On Sunday, President Obama will visit Joplin, Missouri to tour damaged areas and to meet with and state and local officials and families affected by the devastation. Both he and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano have been receiving regular updates from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on the recovery efforts there. Yesterday, senior administration officials from across the federal family traveled to Joplin to meet with state and local officials, including personnel from his White House National Security Staff, the Departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Service, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Commerce/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"On behalf of the entire federal family, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with families and communities in Joplin, and with all those across the country, who lost loved ones as a result of the storms this week," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who was in Joplin on Monday at the President's request. "We will continue to work with our federal, state, local and private sector partners -- as well as the American public -- to support the affected families, neighborhoods and communities as they work to rebuild and recover, for as long as it takes."The federal government has been in constant contact with all of the impacted states as they responded to and began recovery efforts from these devastating storms. FEMA, through its regional offices in Kansas City, Missouri, Denton, Texas, Chicago, Illinois, and Atlanta, Georgia has been in close contact and coordination with state and local officials throughout the week as storms have threatened various parts of the country.
Under the President's leadership, on Monday FEMA added the two Missouri counties impacted by tornadoes, Jasper and Newton, to an ongoing disaster declaration the state received for recent storms, which means that tornado survivors in those counties can apply for disaster assistance with FEMA. Individuals in these counties can apply for aid three ways: by calling FEMA at (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585; online at www.disasterassistance.gov; or directly on their mobile phones at m.fema.gov. These individuals can also use the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) locator to find the nearest DRC where they can apply for disaster aid, and meet with representatives from FEMA, state and other agencies, to learn about various assistance programs available.
In Minnesota, at the request of the governor, FEMA personnel joined state and local officials to conduct preliminary damage assessments yesterday in Hennipen County. These damage assessments are the first step in helping the governor determine whether the scope of the damages are beyond what the state is capable of handling and if additional federal assistance is needed.
In Oklahoma, FEMA has staff on the ground, including a Federal Coordinating Officer who visited disaster affected areas Wednesday with the Oklahoma Emergency Management Director and the Oklahoma Governor. A FEMA IMAT is also in Oklahoma to assist with coordination efforts. At the request of the governor, preliminary damage assessments began today.
In Arkansas, FEMA has staff on the ground, including a Federal Coordinating Officer, working closely with the Governor and the Arkansas Emergency Management team as they assess the aftermath of the tornadoes that touched down this week. Joint preliminary damage assessments, which began yesterday, continue in Arkansas today.
At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at eight distribution centers throughout the United States.
While the major wrath of these storms has passed, FEMA continues to encourage all Americans to follow the instructions of state and local officials, and to listen to local radio and/or TV stations for updated emergency information, especially heading into the holiday weekend. Also, familiarize yourself with these simple steps to stay safe before, during and after a storm:
Follow the instructions of state and local officials,
Listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information,
Make sure you have a safe place to go in case severe weather approaches,
Familiarize yourself with severe weather watch/warning terms:
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
- Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
For complete tips on getting prepared for a tornado, severe storm, or flooding, visit Ready.gov or our mobile site (m.fema.gov).
To help manage the generous outpouring of support for disaster survivors, read more about simple ways to help, whether by volunteering or making donations.